One of the greatest misconceptions about sports in this country is that Americans don’t like soccer. Vocal contrarian sportswriters love to perpetuate that misconception from their columns, and xenophobic Americans follow suit, ever skeptical of things “not from around here.” Admittedly, it’s not always easy to follow the sport’s top leagues from halfway around the world, but if there’s one thing Americans have proved time and time again, it’s that they do in fact enjoy the beautiful game…when it’s being played well.
That’s why minor leagues in any sport always struggle to survive, and why many fans are lukewarm about the game in this country. Too often, Americans who want to watch soccer are forced to watch third-rate athletes compete in fourth-rate stadia. Last night, though, 93,137 fans packed the Rose Bowl and proved once again that they will flock to the game when it’s played at the highest levels as Barcelona FC beat the LA Galaxy 2-1.
Anyone who has been to both minor- and major-league games in any sport can tell you that the atmosphere in the major leagues is different. There’s more at stake, there’s more pride, the fans are more into the games. And again, that’s what last night’s match proved, as even David Beckham raised his game with the sort of spectacularly-placed free-kick goal that got him his reputation in the first place…the reputation as being good at soccer, not the one about him being an overpriced diva:
It was the largest crowd to see a soccer match in the USA since the 1994 World Cup. Of course everyone was there to cheer on Barcelona rather than the home team Galaxy, but that’s to be expected. Soccer may never be played in this country at those high levels regularly - there’s too much competition from the homegrown sports - but the old tired argument that Americans don’t like soccer has been repeatedly disproven. Find a new argument, sports fans.